Equipping Your Home and Ditching the Commercial Gym Forever
If you currently go to a public/corporate gym, I am sure you are well aware of the drawbacks. Waiting for equipment, busy and not so hygienic change rooms, social butterflies, and the commute back and forth are all things I am glad I was able to leave behind many years ago. If you have a small space, 100-150 square feet, in a spare bedroom, corner of the basement or garage, you can set up enough equipment to never have to go to the gym again. You want to keep it to the essentials as space is at premium. You also don’t want to break the bank to do it. This is what I would consider the minimum to do everything you need to get a great workout at home.
Half squat rack
This is going to be the cornerstone of your home gym so make sure you buy a sturdy one. The reason it is so important is it serves many purposes besides squats. With the addition of a few other pieces, the squat rack becomes a multi use piece of equipment that allows you to train any part of the body effectively. You can do various squat variations, pull ups of all kinds and numerous ab exercises. It also only takes up half the space of a full squat cage and you can get these for a few hundred dollars new but I would recommend looking for used. Save yourself some cash on the back of someone else's good intentions. Cost $300-600 new.
You can find these very cheap but trust me you don’t want to skimp too much here. You will be using this bench probably every workout so you don’t want something that wobbles everytime you sit or stand on it, especially if you have weights over your face or head. With the combination of the squat rack and the bench you now can do bench press, incline press, and military press. The safeties on the rack allow you to do these without a spotter and not have to worry about getting caught under the weight. Cost $150-300 new.
Bar and weights
This is where you can spend a fortune or save a ton of cash depending on how much work you want to do. If you buy new you can expect to spend 200-600+ for a bar and 300-1000+ for Olympic plates. If you shop around for used you can get this stuff for less than half that, sometimes even cheaper. Don’t waste your money on standard 1” weights. You need something that can grow with you as you get stronger. The vinyl and cement weight set from Sears is not going to cut it. Cost $700-1000 new (don’t buy new).
Bands are an inexpensive piece of equipment that can replace many thousands of dollars of machines. With a little imagination you can mimic leg curls, pulldowns, rows, flys, tricep press downs, etc, etc. The list is almost endless. As long as you have a solid anchor (the squat rack is perfect for this) the sky is the limit to what you can create. Cost $25-40.
I almost did not include this as some of them are ridiculously overpriced. You can find reasonably priced ones though and because of its versatility, it makes the list. Once again the squat rack serves as a steady base and your imagination is your only limit to what exercises you can do. Cost $30-50.
So that is my personal list of essentials for a home gym. There are other items that are nice to have like adjustable dumbbells and maybe a Kettlebell or two, but these items are not cheap. They also can be added later if you can afford them and you decide you want them. If you have the space and the money, you can add many things, but I would encourage you to start with the essentials and see how far that takes you.